Predicting the success of fertilisation in mouse eggs

Summaries of newsworthy papers: Predicting the success of fertilisation in mouse eggs **PRESS BRIEFING**; Enhancing rechargeable batteries; Tracking influenza A immunity; Potential new therapeutic targets for Schistosomiasis; Birds have dinosaur digits 1, 2 and 3

This press release contains:

• Summaries of newsworthy papers:

Predicting the success of fertilisation in mouse eggs **PRESS BRIEFING**
Enhancing rechargeable batteries
Tracking influenza A immunity
Potential new therapeutic targets for Schistosomiasis
And finally…Birds have dinosaur digits 1, 2 and 3

• Mention of papers to be published at the same time
• Geographical listing of authors

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[1] Predicting the success of fertilisation in mouse eggs **PRESS BRIEFING**
DOI: 10.1038/ncomms1424

Changes in the cytoplasm of fertilised mouse eggs can predict whether the fertilized egg will develop successfully reports a paper published in Nature Communications this week. This finding could potentially have important implications for improving in vitro fertilisation in humans.

Changes in the movement of the intracellular contents of fertilized eggs can be measured in the laboratory. Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz and colleagues found that in fertilized mouse eggs these changes were linked to calcium oscillations and the cytoskeleton. Based on the frequency and amplitude of the cellular changes in fertilised mouse eggs, they could predict which eggs were likely to go on and successfully develop to the blastocyst stage. They noted that eggs with faster cellular movements and those with a longer interval between movements developed most successfully.

The authors suggest that it may be possible to measure these changes in human eggs and predict the success of fertilisation.

Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz (University of Cambridge, UK)
Tel: +44 1223 763291; E-mail: [email protected]
Please note that this author is travelling and is best contacted via email

Anna Ajduk (University of Cambridge, UK) Co-author
Tel: +44 1223 764307; Mobile: +44 7854 682 143; E-mail: [email protected]

**Please note a telephone press briefing will take place UNDER STRICT EMBARGO on Monday 08 August at 1400 London time (BST) / 0900 US Eastern Time.**
Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz will discuss her research. This will be followed by a Q&A session.

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[2] Enhancing rechargeable batteries
DOI: 10.1038/ncomms1435

A step towards realising a rechargeable magnesium/sulphur battery is demonstrated in Nature Communications this week. This potentially low-cost, high energy density rechargeable battery could be suitable for use in electric vehicles.

Owing to its natural abundance and high capacity for storing energy, magnesium is an ideal rechargeable battery anode material. The surface chemistry of magnesium limits the choice of compatible cathodes and electrolytes. Sulphur cathodes are low-cost and have a high theoretical capacity, but coupling requires a specific type of electrolyte. John Muldoon and colleagues prepare a non-nucleophilic electrolyte from hexamethyldisilazide magnesium chloride and aluminium trichloride, and show its compatibility with a sulphur cathode.

These proof-of-concept results may represent a step towards practical rechargeable magnesium/sulphur rechargeable batteries; however, the authors note that new solvents are needed to reduce the polysulphide sulphur dissolution, which reduces the availability of active sulphur material.

John Muldoon (Toyota Research Institute of North America, Ann Arbor, MI, USA)
Tel: +1 734 995 4403; E-mail: [email protected]

[3] Tracking influenza A immunity
DOI: 10.1038/ncomms1432

Significant differences in immunity to influenza A viruses among communities cannot solely explained by differences in population demographics suggests a study published in Nature Communications this week. This finding suggests that there may be characteristics of communities that drive influenza transmission dynamics apart from individual and household level risk factors.

Variations in influenza incidence between locations are commonly observed on large spatial scales. It is currently unclear whether such variation occurs on small spatial scales and whether it is a result of differences in population demographics or more subtle differences in population structure and connectivity.

Derek Cummings and colleagues selected five communities at random in Guangdong, China and tested blood samples against five recently circulating influenza viruses. They found significant differences in the frequency of detectable immune responses to influenza A viruses among communities that is not explained by the differences in population demographics alone.

This work suggests that the exposure of populations to seasonal influenza differs over much smaller spatial scales than was previously thought. However due to the small sample size further locations will need to be studying in order to determine the specific factors that lead to spatial differences in immunity patterns.

Derek Cummings (Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD, USA)
Tel: +1 410 502 9319; E-mail: [email protected]

[4] Potential new therapeutic targets for Schistosomiasis
DOI: 10.1038/ncomms1433

Modification of the DNA of the parasitic flatworm Schistosoma mansoni that gives rise to the disease Schistomiasis is identified in Nature Communications. The finding could potentially be used to identify targets to control these pathogens which cause one of the world’s most prevalent parasitic diseases.

Schistomiasis is a chronic and debilitating disease caused by blood flukes. Karl Hoffmann and colleagues show for the first time that the genomic DNA of the blood fluke Schistosoma mansoni is methylated and they also identify proteins that are likely to mediate this modification of the DNA. They found that chemical inhibition of these proteins with the FDA approved chemotherapeutic drug 5-azacytidine, reduced methylation and also reduced the egg production of female blood flukes and caused morphological abnormalities of the remaining eggs.

These findings suggest that targeting the proteins that methylate the DNA of the flood fluke could be used in their control.

Karl Hoffmann (Aberystwyth University, UK)
Tel: +44 1970 622 237; E-mail: [email protected]

[5] And finally…Birds have dinosaur digits 1, 2 and 3
DOI: 10.1038/ncomms1437

Support for the theory that bird wings descended from dinosaurs that had digits 1, 2 and 3, is published in Nature Communications this week. This is contrary to previous studies which had suggested that bird wing digits arise in the embryo in digit positions 2, 3 and 4.

Bird wing anatomy resembles the digits on the hands of Triassic theropod dinosaurs, but which digit positions gave rise to those seen in modern birds is still unclear. To understand how digit patterns are generated, Matthew Towers and colleagues produce genetic maps of the chick wing to pinpoint areas of soft tissue and cartilage development. Their results are in agreement with the proposal that the digits of the bird wing are 1, 2 and 3 having evolved from theropod dinosaurs that had the same digits.

Matthew Towers (University of Sheffield, UK)
Tel: +44 114 222 2370; E-mail: [email protected]

Papers to go live at the same time…

[6] Delay-induced anomalous fluctuations in intracellular regulation
DOI: 10.1038/ncomms1422

[7] Photon extrabunching in ultrabright twin beams measured by two-photon counting in a semiconductor
DOI: 10.1038/ncomms1423

[8] Li(Zn,Mn)As as a new generation ferromagnet based on a I–II–V semiconductor
DOI: 10.1038/ncomms1425

[9] Fast cavity-enhanced atom detection with low noise and high fidelity
DOI: 10.1038/ncomms1428

[10] Direct imaging of Joule heating dynamics and temperature profiling inside a carbon nanotube interconnect
DOI: 10.1038/ncomms1429

[11] Carbon arc production of heptagon-containing fullerene[68]
DOI: 10.1038/ncomms1431


The following list of places refers to the whereabouts of authors on the papers numbered in this release. For example, London: 4 - this means that on paper number four, there will be at least one author affiliated to an institute or company in London. The listing may be for an author's main affiliation, or for a place where they are working temporarily. Please see the PDF of the paper for full details.

Vienna: 9

Hamilton: 8
Vancouver: 8

Beijing: 8
Guangdong: 3
Hangzhou: 8
Hong Kong: 3
Xiamen: 11

Palaiseau: 7
Paris: 7

Dresden: 10

Bangalore: 10

Ibaraki: 10
Tokai: 8
Tokyo: 8

Aveiro: 10

Uppsala: 6

Aberystwyth: 4
Bath: 5
Birmingham: 9
Cambridge: 1
Cardiff: 1
London: 9
Neston: 3
Oxford: 1
Sheffield: 5

Notre Dame: 2
Baltimore: 3
Ann Arbor: 2
Chanhassen: 2
North Carolina
Wake Forest: 2
New York
New York: 8

From North America and Canada
Neda Afsarmanesh, Nature New York
Tel: +1 212 726 9231; E-mail: [email protected]

From Japan, Korea, China, Singapore and Taiwan
Mika Nakano, Nature Tokyo
Tel: +81 3 3267 8751; E-mail: [email protected]

From the UK
Rachel Twinn, Nature, London
Tel: +44 20 7843 4658; E-mail: [email protected]

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Published: 09 Aug 2011

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